×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sienna Films: The challenges of ‘Combat’

Showbiz Update: Canada - Ontario - TV

When ABC nabbed Kandahar-set medical procedural “Combat Hospital” in early 2011 and requested summer delivery, Sienna Films’ Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny faced mission impossible. “We had no writing room, no cast, no set, no production team,” recalls Kawaja, who’s produced indie features (Sundance players “New Waterford Girl” and “How She Move”), Canadian telefilms (Gemini-winning “One Dead Indian”) and provocative docus with Sereny for 20 years.

Sienna boarded “Combat” after the show’s creators Jinder Oujla-Chalmers and Douglas Steinberg pitched the concept to Global TV, which took it to Sienna. Show was developed with Oujla-Chambers and Steinberg in 2008. The timing was perfect. “We’d never focused on TV but, as the marketplace changed, we saw how brave pay and even network TV had become and started developing a slate,” Kawaja says.

Extensive story research began as Sienna — well versed in co-production financing — set about structuring the 13-parter as a co-production with fellow execs from U.K’s Artists Studio and Lookout Point.

Three months after ABC’s greenlight (Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has rights outside North America), showrunner Daniel Petrie Jr. was leading his troops, Elias Koteas and Deborah Kara Unger were in costume and cameras were rolling on a vast indoor/outdoor set (based on the real NATO Role 3 hospital Canadians ran 2006-10). The show’s June preem hit a 2 million-plus Canadian aud, and became a ratings winner for Canada’s network Global, posting an average 1.86 million viewers per episode.

Repped by 3 Arts’ Carrie Stein, Sienna is a minority producer on Julian Fellows-scripted mini “Titanic” and has a full development slate: on the TV side, the 12-part international co-production “The Heretics” ; on the feature front, Randall Cole and Elyse Friedman’s “A Bright Tragic Thing,” an adaptation of Karen Connelly’s Burma-set novel “The Lizard Cage” and a comedy from “New Waterford Girl” scribe Trisha Fish.

More TV

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

  • Bryan Cranston First Time in Variety

    Bryan Cranston on His Early Roles, Dealing With Rejection and His 'Erasable Mind'

    Following his 2014 Tony Award for best actor as President Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” Bryan Cranston is looking to add to his trophy collection this year with his performance as Howard Beale in “Network.” The deranged anchorman — who’s famously “mad as hell and not going to take this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content